— Published 9 November 2022

Paolo Barelli suspended for two years

The downward spiral continues for Paolo Barelli. The Italian executive, former president of the European Swimming League (LEN), has just been suspended for two years by the ethics committee of the international federation (FINA). He had already been suspended last September, but the suspension was only provisional. The sanction is now confirmed and becomes final. Paolo Barelli is accused of several violations of FINA’s rules and statutes, notably in his capacity as President of the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN). He is accused of having unilaterally signed an amendment to a contract between LEN and FIN, for an amount of between 500,000 and 1.5 million euros to the benefit of the Italian body, but also of having claimed nearly 500,000 euros from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in the name of FIN for various expenses. The costs in question had already been paid by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. Suspended for two years from 14 September 2022, Paolo Barelli is banned from all swimming activities. He is therefore supposed to give up the presidency of the Italian federation. As soon as the sanction was handed down, the Italian leader announced his intention to file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). “I am going to win, because I object to a sanction that is clearly not definitive, unfounded, absurd, infamous and with obvious repercussions on my activity in the sporting and political sphere,” he claims. “I deny any wrongdoing”. Former LEN president, Paolo Barelli, 68, was FINA vice-president and honorary secretary of the international body between 2009 and 2013. Re-elected in 2020 for a new four-year term as LEN president, he was forced last year to accept new elections after a vote of no confidence imposed by several national federations. The elections proved fatal, with Portuguese António José Silva winning.